I Believe… Part Deux

A while back, I started jotting my thoughts about things that I believe in – or don’t believe in, as it were.  I had a bit of brain tickle the other day.  I keep getting faced with folks and their religious beliefs.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a free country and everyone has a right to believe whatever they want.  I was raised in a household where we went to church every Sunday.  But we didn’t get into people’s faces about it.  These days, that seems to be the way some folks want to “do” religion.  They knock on doors, they make laws based on their beliefs – we even have “faith based” religious offices within the government!

I am absolutely fascinated by religion.  I’ve actually spent some of my adult time in church, and found it not to my liking for various reasons.  I’ve studied it a bit on my own, and in formal settings.  Here is my conclusion:  it’s not that I don’t believe in God or some higher being.  This is totally between me and that being, whether it be a he, she, or it.  What I don’t believe very much in is the people who believe in God.  So many bad things have been done in the name of God – but they have been done by people in the name of God.  We are such an imperfect species.

So please, keep your religious beliefs to yourself, unless you just want to have a nice polite theoretical discussion.  I might find an academic discussion about the history of your religion interesting.  But please don’t try to convert me.  And don’t try to legislate your religion.  And if you already have (think proposition 8), please reconsider what you have done.  Thanks.

Update 3/4/2009:

I found this quote in some of my random reading and it seemed appropriate for this blog entry.  This is a quote from Ghandi:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Amen.

About Purrkitten

I have a wide range of interests, but not a great deal of depth in any of them. So here I share just a smattering of my random thoughts, mostly for my own amusement.
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2 Responses to I Believe… Part Deux

  1. Roger K. Weiss says:

    One wonders when so many religions made the transition from telling you what you should believe to telling you what you should force others to believe. Given that the Crusades were in the 12th Century, it was probably a long time ago, when people thought the world was flat, leeches were a cutting-edge medical technology, and doctors were proud that average life expectancy was increasing to almost 40. Enlightened times, indeed.I believe in God, and I worship him in the Jewish tradition. If someone else wants to join me in this belief, it is nice only because being the only Jew in South OC makes it hard to get a discount on yarmulkes or find a good deli nearby. If someone else wants to worship God in a different way, or focus on a prophet or other religious figure like Mary or Buddah or that Jesus fellow, it should not matter to me. For all I care, people can worship multiple Gods, or science, or Julie’s cat. Whatever bakes your potato.So when we talk about BEHAVIOR, religions dictates both what you do on your own and what you do that harms others. Secular laws have copied the laws that protect us from each other (Thou shalt not kill or steal or club baby seals). But some religions say you should follow behavior for personal reasons, such as praying 5 times a day, or not eating pork, or not kissing people whose private parts look remarkably similar to your own. Here is where we make our personal choices and decide how to shape our actions based upon our beliefs. But too many people think there is some great blessing in also forcing others to make the same choices. This is all about control, and religion was never meant to help us to control others. But people regularly invoke religion to justify there own concerns, and shun, condemn, or even murder those who act differently.How do we separate this in our mind? How do we hate those who misuse the teachings or philosophies of a certain theology to justify judging or hating or restricting the behavior of others without also hating their religion, or hating their God, or just plain hating the concept of religion in general? You may as well ask if we can hate a sin and not the sinner. In reality, it is not easy to differentiate.I remember laughing to myself when I saw television footage of people in Islamic countries burning the Danish flag and shouting “Death to Denmark” because someone there drew a cartoon. This was partially because I have never seen such behavior directed at any country but the US and Israel, but mostly because it was over, well, a cartoon. It is almost as if the anger comes first, and then people look to a religious authority to tell them where to direct it.Religion, like skin color, is fading from this planet. More people worship certain teenage stars than follow some major religions, and eventually Britney’s kids will be what we spend Sunday talking about. So there is hope. But God will still be there if we need him.

  2. PurrKitten says:

    Roger, I am struck by the first sentence of your comment – you are so right! It seems that the question might be that many religions now have “lay clergy” – let everyone speak the “truth” and proselytize the masses, however forceful or violent that effort may be.And I also totally agree that it is difficult to differentiate between hating the sin and hating the sinner. Nice concept, hard to implement.Religion may be fading from the planet, but I don’t think that faith will ever die. We as a race of humans will always have faith in something, whether it is in a higher being, that good will win out eventually, or that good sense will prevail. Maybe not in our lifetime, but some day.Thanks for your comments.

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